Subject: IO: Alatas- Independent Timor can renegotiate Gap deal
Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 09:03:20 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Indonesian Observer 18th February 1999 FM: Independent Timor can renegotiate Gap deal

JAKARTA (IO) — Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said yesterday an independent East Timor could renegotiate the Timor Gap treaty signed by Indonesia and Australia in 1989.

"When they are independent, this matter will be renegotiated. It must be discussed because the Timor Gap is located in the southern part of the territory," Alatas told reporters.

Under the treaty, Indonesia and Australia jointly develop oil and gas resources in the Timor Gap – located between the Timor island and northern Australia.

Oil exploration in the Timor Gap is still in progress.

"I don’t think a negotiation will scare off investors," Alatas said.

The government startled the world in January when it offered the troubled province of East Timor its independence provided the East Timorese refuse Indonesia’s offer of broad, special autonomy.

The former Portuguese colony of East Timor was integrated into Indonesia in 1976 in a move never recognized by the United Nations, which still considers Portugal as the administering power of the territory.

Australia is one of a handful of countries recognizing Indonesia’s sovereignty over East Timor.

Alatas said a number of ministers from Indonesia and Australia are scheduled to hold regular bilateral talks in Bali next week.

Alatas said he believed that the East Timor issue will not disturb Indonesia-Australia bilateral relations which have long been established under mutually beneficial basis.

"There are sometimes different perceptions between Australia and Indonesia on the East Timor problem. However, in the coming years, the ties between the two countries will be fostered because of the East Timor solution process.

"If there is a solution to the East Timor issue, both through wide-ranging autonomy or the second option, the relationship will improve in line with the end of the problem that has sometimes caused tension between the two," the minister said.

In the economic sector, the two neighboring countries have long teamed up in developing 14 provinces in the eastern part of Indonesia.

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